After nearly a year of planning – including early mornings up before dawn to arrange dining and FastPass+ reservations, this week I was all set to head off to Walt Disney World for a wonderful visit… and then Hurricane Irma happened.
Suffice it to say, my long-anticipated trip got canceled and yesterday instead of enjoying all my exciting options at Epcot, I found myself sitting at home staring at a yet-to-be-unpacked suitcase. So what’s a Disney fan to do except head off to the Disneyland Resort and try to do a West Coast version of the day I’d originally envisioned?
My food plans for the day were set to be all about Canada! I had intended to try out the cheddar cheese soup and pretzel roll at the Canada booth at the Food & Wine Festival and then have dinner at Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion. So what did I do at the Disneyland Resort instead?
I stopped by the last weekend of the Summer of Heroes event at Disney California Adventure where I found one of the themed specialty donuts called the “Local Favorite”.
It’s Canadian-adjacent. Or related. Or something. Hey, there’s maple in it!
How did this pay homage to my Epcot dining plans? Umm, hello MAPLE-filled donut (with bacon on top – oh yes!)!!!
While I’ll have to give the edge to the apple-pie-filled donut I’d tried earlier in the season, this one was a winner, too. Although I didn’t actually find much filling inside, it still had the awesome taste as if someone had mixed a pancake with a donut. And the bacon bits on top gave just a touch of salt to balance out the sweet. Yum!
High on my priorities list for entertainment at Epcot was to see the glorious Voices of Liberty and listen to their soaring harmonies and classic music selections. Continue reading
The Disney Parks are filled with Disney Dads – from those pushing the strollers to those up on the stage.
To celebrate Father’s Day, I thought I’d point out a couple of places you can spot some Disney Dads at the Disneyland Resort!
I think it would be incredible to start with Disney California Adventure – where you can spot super dad Mr. Incredible along with the rest of his family in the Pixar Play Parade!
There are two different places in Paradise Pier where you may notice images of Princess Ariel’s father – at his namesake King Triton’s Carousel or inside the The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure attraction. And if and when Paint the Night returns, you can see Triton at the head of The Little Mermaid float in that parade as well!
Heading over to the Hyperion Theater, Elsa and Anna’s father appears in Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.
Elsa and her father in Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.
And at Turtle Talk with Crush in the Animation Academy, you can visit with the awesome sea turtle Crush and his son Squirt along with fellow father and son duo, Marlin and Nemo. Some of these Finding Nemo characters can also be found at the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park. Continue reading
And in the category of – you just never know what “characters” you’ll run into at a Disney Park – you probably already heard that Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance this week at Disneyland Park, dressed in full Captain Jack Sparrow regalia and greeted guests riding the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction! Now that’s an effective reminder that next month the new movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, will be released and we should all go check it out for more adventures with our favorite pirate captain!
While sadly I wasn’t there for it, I was getting updates from friends as it happened and it sounded like a swashbuckling good time was had by all.
This follows Depp’s previous interactive video booth appearance in character as the Mad Hatter at Disneyland to promote Alice Through the Looking Glass.
But although such promotions are incredibly fun, they are pretty much once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and luck of the draw if you happen to be there.
Fortunately, for the rest of us, Disney Parks and Resorts continue to surprise us with various character appearances and while you never can predict who may pop up without warning to Meet & Greet, it’s always worth keeping your eyes open for an opportunity!
For example, I’ve only been lucky enough to spot Belle & Beast once wandering through Fantasyland at Disneyland Park this year, but I’ve seen Gaston walking there at least two or three times.
I haven’t always had my camera at hand, however. But I was quite lucky I did a few weeks ago, when who should I see waddling quickly through Fantasyland? Continue reading
“Life can be so much more – with you!”
Hans and Anna vent about their siblings.
Yesterday, I spoke about a performer who was so perfect in her role, it was like she’d stepped right out of a movie. Yet her empathetic ability to impart such emotion into the character created depth from what could easily have been just a physical and vocal re-creation.
Today’s spotlight turns to another member of the cast who also impressed mightily – by his digression from what was onscreen!
One of the things I miss most since Frozen – Live at the Hyperion replaced Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular at Disney California Adventure is the spontaneity and freshness that the previous show provided every time I saw it. It was Genie’s character that brought something different and exciting to every performance.
Unfortunately, the new Frozen show is an automaton by comparison – turning out unchanging interpretations by most performers just focused for now on hitting their marks and lines each time. But happily, not all!
I was very pleasantly surprised when I recently attended two back-to-back showings of Frozen – Live at the Hyperion and was heartily entertained by Hans’ performance in both!
First of all – he played off of and responded to the audience, which was a delight to watch happen! The staging in this show is such that several characters work their way through the theater at various times, but this guy was the only one to actually acknowledge the audience at different points while still staying totally in character. In fact, this use of the crowd fed the substance of his character incredibly well!
There were two moments I particularly noticed and enjoyed in both shows – one was his cocky flirtatious winks and points at folks sitting near the stage. This totally worked for his take on the character (more about which momentarily). And another was the moment when Hans was holding cloaks for the citizens of Arendelle – as he asked which citizens needed them, several hands shot up in the audience and he immediately aimed his next lines in their direction. A perfect organic response that made everyone in the theater feel more a part of the story!
But the other aspect of his performance was in fact the exact opposite reason I’d enjoyed Elsa’s so much – because he reinvented the character and played him in a distinct and fun manner from the film!
CHARACTER SPOILERS AHEAD! Continue reading
“Some people are worth melting for…”
What a difference a cast makes…
For those who read my spotlight on the Frozen – Live at the Hyperion show in Disney California Adventure, you’ll recall I wasn’t particularly thrilled with it. Okay, that’s an understatement. I thought the show was close to unwatchable – between length (it still needs at least 20 minutes cut out), production choices and casting decisions, I was extremely disappointed in the results.
But as they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and this week I’m going to address two performances that were absolutely right in very different ways when I recently went back to see the show for a second (and third!) time. And in the case of today’s performer, it was absolutely perfect.
Frankly, if the rest of this show was cast as well and aptly as this girl is, it would be a rousing success no matter what the rest of the issues were. However, that hasn’t happened.
Still, today, the focus is on what makes a performer and a role mesh so exquisitely it was like they were made for each other.
In the case of Elsa – first, the look.
Between her huge expressive eyes and a figure that fits the snow queen’s dress like it was drawn on her, this simply is Elsa. Stepped right off the screen.
Her physicality is completely on point – from her elegant hands creating the “magic” to her ability to work the costume from head to toe, especially the cape!
Second, the voice. Continue reading
Inside the Animation Courtyard.
There is a hidden gem inside the Disney Animation Building in Disney California Adventure’s Hollywood Land: the Animation Courtyard.
This is not only a central location to lead you to other attractions such as the Animation Academy (to be spotlighted tomorrow!) and Turtle Talk with Crush, along with the Meet & Greet area for Anna and Elsa. But it is a destination unto itself – a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks.
It functions both as a place to get out of the rain or sun and just rest for a bit, as well as a wonderful showcase for Disney and PIXAR animation and musical history.
I love going in here and just sitting (either on one of the couches here or even on the floor) and watching and listening – whether for a few moments or the full half-hour-ish loop of songs, animation and drawings projected in 360 degrees all around you!
So many films are represented here – from classics like Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty…
Sleeping Beauty artwork.
Through the renaissance of Disney animation like Aladdin and The Lion King…
The Lion King animation.
To modern showstoppers like Frozen. I’ve yet to see “Let it Go” play here in the Courtyard without many guests breaking out into the chorus along with Elsa! Continue reading
While there are a lot of fans out there of Disney film protagonists – the heroes and heroines of the story – as well as plenty of fans of Disney villains, I have found that my favorite characters tend to be the sidekicks.
And not just any sidekicks, but the ones who aren’t always embraced by either the protagonist or the audience – the ones who, in fact, are often treated like fools but turn out to be the wisest characters of all, not to mention the most loyal of companions.
Some examples of these favorite “foolish” characters include:
- My favorite non-Wonderland character in all of Disney (and Pixar). Dug is a good dog. He may express himself simply, but his candor reveals his big heart and devotion to his chosen pack. And while his blunt talk may make him seem foolish, he is courageous in his defense of his masters and clever when it counts. Just hearing his joyous doggy ‘voice’ or looking at him with his wagging tail makes me smile. Plus… SQUIRREL!
Tow Mater (Cars)
- Tow Mater is a small town truck, who thanks to his friendship with Lightning McQueen has managed to travel the world but still keep his perspective to what truly matters most in life: family, friends and home. He may seem naïve, but he always has his priorities in order and maintains a happy, friendly, open and welcoming attitude towards everyone. He does have an occasional naughty streak (like tractor-tipping!), but in all is the best friend a car could ever ask for!
- The overabundance of Frozen across Disney properties has led to something of a backlash from some people against Olaf. And I’ll agree, I got sick of all the Frozen everywhere, but if you return to the heart of the Frozen phenomenon, it’s the movie. And in the movie, Olaf is yet another endearing sidekick character who perceives instantly and more clearly exactly what is happening and why before the protagonists ever catch on. He recognizes love when he sees it and he understands instinctively that some people are worth melting for… Continue reading